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Alcoholism

Sunday Sundries … Canada Votes Tomorrow and Other Assorted Topics

maple leaf redThis leaf was found on the ground, and set into this photo. What a unique photo incorporating all that is Canada. I really like it.

It has been a very busy week. I haven’t had time to sit down and write, because life is happening at warp speed as of late. However busy it has been, this week, I have had moments of just being present for my friends.

PRESENCE…

I have spoken a great deal about “presence.” And how important that is to others, as well as for ourselves.

Life, it seems, as of late, has been full of opportunity to just be present.

Every day, there is Something to do. Places to go. People to see. Meetings to attend.

I spend a good chunk of time with the baby. And the game is changing up because our friends have now, more time to commit to being present themselves. Which is giving baby mama time to step outside of motherhood, to find the woman she was, before the baby. But she has found that she does not remember the woman she was.

So the task at hand is to realize who she is today.

And we’ve begin the process of being present for her, so that she can take some time to herself during the week, to find herself. It is a good thing.

I have other friends that just need to be loved. The consensus for some of my fellows is that they can’t devote time to people who aren’t “in the game” or “in it for the solution.” I differ in this process. I believe that just being present to begin with, is a start.

We’ve all had things to do this week, which were tedious, and stressful. And on one particular afternoon, I sat with my friends, just to be there, to offer them strength and to witness a change in the way of things.

There have been many ways that “presence” has been presented to me.

This has been a long running theme in my life.

We talked the other night about Ego and Self Esteem. When I think about these two words, images flood my mind.

Nothing kills an ego, faster, than looking down at an overflowing toilet full of shit and piss, because someone has stopped up the toilet with a cup placed backwards in the system.

And knowing that YOU have to clean it up. And not complain about it either.

Todd did a good job at teaching me valuable lessons, I get to draw upon to this day. I’m really grateful that I had the life I have lived up to this point. Because in the end, it has played out quite nicely.

When I came out, I don’t think I ever thought about self esteem. Because I was just a boy, who, with a little alcohol, would find myself, and others, and I would be one of many, just like myself.

The alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. Until it stopped working.

My brand of alcoholism, was always, trying to find something, do something, or be someone that was unattainable, for one reason or another. I was finished when I put down the drink for the last time. Who I am today, is a direct result of all the work I have put into myself over the last almost fourteen years.

I had to get to the end of whatever road of misery I was on. It was good that I did not have much in the way of things, or money, or responsibility. It was an uphill battle. My life’s career from my teens into adulthood was fraught with complications.

I did have that two year break in the trend of misery, and had the opportunity to live the two best years of my life, with Todd. For a brief time, I knew who I was, I had self esteem, and my life was honored by men I respected and adored.

We read these stories of the folks from the second edition of the Big Book tonight.

I had not wealth, nor title, nor achievement to my name, when I was drinking, and a good thing too. Because it would have been wasted opportunity. God, in his infinite wisdom, held achievement just outside of my reach, until I was finished destroying myself.

They say, that good things come to those who wait …

I’ve learned the fine art of patience and persistence. One day at a time. Sobriety is a long term proposal, that for most, is too daunting to see right now. Which is why, one day at a time, is so useful.

Mortality, or the threat of loosing it is another ego buster. Knowing that your life hangs in the balance, and you are surely going to die, because everyone else is dying or already in the ground, so buckle up and hang on for the ride. Been there, done that …

I get two daily reminders of just who is in charge, and why I am still alive …

Just looking at my medicine cabinet is a sobering thought. That keeps shit real.

LIQUOR LIQUOR EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK …

Living in a big city, with mass transit, that, at certain times of the day, is a nightmare, brings with it a myriad of people, riding the rails. And there are a million and one stories I could tell about them.

Usually, if you travel during rush hour, it is a forgone conclusion, that at some point, the trains are going to stop, for one reason or another. If you travel after 8 p.m. the party crowd tends to ride with arm fulls of beer.

The other day I was on the train, and a gaggle of girls was traveling in the same direction I was. One girl had a bottle of Triple Sec, a second girl had a bottle of Vodka, and a third girl had a bottle of Jim Beam. For a few minutes I sat there, trying to figure out a drink combination from these three liquors …

Having been a bartender myself, I knew what I was trying to figure out.

But I had never used these three in conjunction with each other in the past.

Finally, I had to say to myself that it was either shots or mixers.

Either way, I was glad it wasn’t me carrying any bottles.

Tonight, I had a meeting with a friend, before the meeting to discuss group business. And we headed to the church a little early. And a good thing too.

The streets were packed with parked cars, the organ was cranking in the church, and we walked into the hall, and the smell of booze was sickening.

Apparently a memorial service was going on upstairs, and a wine bar was prepared down in the hall to cap off the service. Our main table was covered in glasses of red and white wine. Funny that all this wine was all over the place, and here were a few members of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting coming to set up a meeting.

That was the closest I have come to open liquor being served in as many years.

Can you say … “Oh, you can have just one … It won’t hurt, will it?”

We set the coffee pot perking and waited out the group to imbibe and go. Which ran the entire time period from when we got there, to six fifteen, when the meeting was supposed to start.

We had to work around them, and set up the room, as we quietly, ushered them out by turning down the lights, and saying nothing. It was all good.

CANADA VOTES 2015

It has been a contentious Seventy Eight Day Campaign. The leaders of our Federal Parties have been battling for votes for the longest campaign yet. Our Conservative leader, the Honorable Stephen Harper is about to loose his position, in an election that is still, too close to call.

The Conservative Party is on its way out, because an overwhelming number of Canadians say that it is time for change. But just what that change will look like is too close to call tonight.

We vote tomorrow. I voted in early voting last weekend.

The Liberal Party, headed by Justin Trudeau, The New Democratic Party, headed by Thomas Mulcair, The Parti Quebecoise headed by Gilles Ducepp, and The Green Party headed by Elizabeth May, are all vying for a position.

We have a Green Party. They are not in contention for leadership, but more supportive role in the government. They hold a few seats, and hope to more than double their numbers which will give them negotiating power in coalitions in the next parliament.

It will be a dead heat between Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau for Prime Minister.

The man who wins the most M.P.’s by riding, across the country, will be our next Prime Minister.

I am rooting for the younger, Justin Trudeau.

Stay tuned. It is going to be one rip roaring ride.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – The Universe and Us

tumblr_n0l11e6Twk1sdwwhso1_500 the sneakerboyCourtesy: The Sneaker Boy Well, our Prime Minister spoke to the Governor General and decided to dissolve Parliament, triggering our Next Federal Election Scheduled for October 19th. As I told our M.P. who called on Friday, I am supporting Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. I just hope voters are not going to be scared into voting the Conservatives back into power, most Canadians agree that change is needed in Ottawa. This will be the longest running election campaign, over eleven weeks.

The Conservative Party has the most money to spend. And by triggering the election today ( Sunday) the other Federal Parties are stuck with just what they have collected to this point. And the Conservative Party is well known for their dirty ads and underhanded way they run a campaign.

We shall see how Canada swings this fall.

Before the meeting, I was talking to one of my lady friends, and I talked about the universe as being full of souls, and all the energy that the universe must have collected over the eons. I also talked about how we are “stardust,” and if we are stardust, then we are a living connection with all that is out there, where we find (in sobriety) a power greater than ourselves. I kept going on and on about spiritual teachings and the Angel and Michael story, that she wants to read now.

There is so much out there, the wisdom of centuries and of men and women and children. How amazing it is to think, that we have the ability to connect with all that energy and being, if we just connected to it spiritually. And how do we do that, with prayer and meditation.

We think, we form thoughts, and where do those thoughts go? Do they stay in our heads, or if we are stardust, part of us is constantly connected to the universe, and if the universe is alive and sentient, then it knows what we think and what we desire, even before we know we need it.

Absolutely amazing, don’t you think ?

It was the First Sunday, and we are back in the book, reading “The Educated Agnostic,” about a man who had the problem, and saw no relief even telling his doctors that he would never be able to quit the drink. Faced with certain destruction his doctors brought him three men to talk to him, each of their own experiences.

His response was the same, “you poor sods, with your simple spiritual practice, good for you, but it won’t work for me.” We know from experience that if one attempts to intellectualize God and the Spiritual practice, you won’t come up with any answers that will help you.

But every story has a happy ending. Little by slowly, over time, our man began to practice these simple spiritual practices, and he too got sober.

So what did we all talk about? God. One of our men spoke about a book he read while on vacation about Joe McCarthy, the demonized senator in the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s. People feared him, he bullied and threatened those who would speak against him and he went out of his way to accuse people of being communist and traitors. Even the president was afraid of him, until he bucked up. In the end, he read that our demon senator McCarthy died of severe liver disease.

Joe McCarthy was one very big alcoholic, who did not find his solution to his attitude or the drink. In the end it was the drink that killed him.

Funny that, I never knew that or knew about the man beyond documentaries I’d watched on tv. He was so vitriolic – his anger and hatred turned inward, and it was alcohol he used to cut the edge, sadly, like most die hard alcoholics, the drink eventually kills us.

I started my read of the Odyssey last night.

Everyone is good tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Riding the Rails

Trains Depression photo Alan FisherCourtesy: Trains of the 1930’s – Photograph Copyright Alan Fisher

The weather did get better. I am sure that thousands and more enjoyed the Grand Prix this afternoon. Montreal shone in all its glory for visitors from far and wide.

It was a full day today. I visited with a friend before the main event of this evening. The construction season is in full swing, not only on local roads and highways, but also, many Metro Stations are being upgraded. I had not visited the Queen Mary district in a while, and I was there today, and the station is under construction, they knocked down and entire block of old buildings and built in its place, a modern brick build housing a Subway and a Pharmaprix, with apartments upstairs. This is noteworthy, because when I first got sober, I spent the better part of two years in aftercare, at the Chabad Lifeline House which HAD been where the new building now sits.

I went from uptown, back to Westmount for the meeting. My guys and gals were waiting for me as I arrived. I was just a few minutes off – because the trains were running on longer wait schedules.

The summer season is in full swing, as I spoke about earlier.

We sat a full number and read a story that went all the way around the room, and then halfway into it again. That’s what you get when you are reading a 13 page story. The chair reminded us of the time constraint so that everyone could share, and we hit the mark, it was fabulous.

Our story, Riding the Rods, comes from Edition One of the Big Book. Which means, all these stories took place prior to the first edition being printed in 1939.

Our man, in this story, at age 14, knew how to get around, that did not include, “walking.” Our young person began to ride the rails from one town to the next. Never staying in one place too long, In the beginning it is exciting. The travel, the not knowing, the adventure.

People did not have much back in those days, as was referenced in our story. So going to find fortune and life someplace else was appealing to some. But we are talking about an early alcoholic. At first he did not go looking for the bottle, but by default, you know he is going to end up inside one sooner or later.

Beer to start, but not the way to get over a hangover the next morning, so it was bootleg hard liquor to the rescue.

Take a hobo alcoholic, toss in a woman and a couple of kids, and what do you get?

A man who will end up with a job for a bit, but not for long. A man who will leave very little for his wife and children and take to the rails to make money but find insanity in the bottle, only to return to where he started, not knowing how he got there, needing help and is committed.

The end could have been tragic, but we always get to the Strength portion of the three part trilogy, one alcoholic, speaking to another, sharing experience, strength and hope.

At the time of printing our man had accrued two years sober, and in those times, two years, was akin to a lifetime, when all they had were each other, sitting in some nondescript living room, 40 at a time, listening to someone tell their story.

Thank God we have what we have today. Because if it weren’t for those first 100 sober folks, we wouldn’t be here afforded what we have.

Gratitude week begins on the 10th of June …

I have a friend, in the rooms today, who jumped out of his seat tonight, as we read. He is the only man I know today, who rode the rails with the hobos and tramps. At first drinking to find something he thought he needed and did not have. All the way to the end, where drinking was not for the finding, but the escape from the insane alcoholic state of mind he was in.

You know its bad when drinking to find becomes drinking to escape …

Every time I read an old story, I muse on the fact that I lived my alcohol story backwards.

In my twenties, I jumped into the deep end of the pool, all alone, with no real direction or goal or anyone to help me get there, had I had someplace to get to in any case.

I did not know from responsibility.

The more I pounded the alcohol the worse it got. I did not have a train to hop, but I certainly drove myself from one city to another and another, trying to find something, I thought was certain, and today I can’t remember what it was I started looking for.

In every stop, I had menial work, I waited tables in Daytona Beach, I sold jewelry by the inch in a shopping mall for a while, I worked in a hole in the wall bar, for Jabba the Hut, which almost took me into prostitution. All the while drinking my way around the state of Florida.

I was the alcoholic tornado twisting through the lives of friends and family.

I made a number of crucial bad decisions. I hurt all the wrong people.

The first time I got sober, I made some serious amends, others I was not so forgiven at all. I had three strikes against me by this point in the timeline, so who would forgive a gay, hiv+, on his deathbed faggot of his sins ??? Not many people.

I lived the alcoholic hell backwards. I did not have much, but what I did have I lost. I worked my way back a little, only to loose again. In the end I perfected my drinking so that I would not loose again. Once again, I got things back, but tossed it away with silent resentment and secrets.

I lost everything I owned on that last trip. And almost my life.

This is the longest I have gone, staying in the same place, sober in my life.

You could say that my childhood would be the first long term sober period staying in one place for a very long period of time. It wasn’t. We moved three times. I started drinking in my teens, and it only got worse. So let’s say from 15 to 20, I was already active. I would admit that those first fifteen years were sober, but they sure were hit and miss, when it comes to good and bad.

The last almost 14 years have been insanely good. I’ve been sober a long few twenty four hours. We live a good life. We have everything we need. Rarely an angry word has been spoken in all those years, and I’ve worked to keep the insanity at a distance.

Many of my friends all agree, that with the coming of the summer season, and the races and festivals here in the city that,

“The alcohol really looks inviting.”

Another friend, said that she, the first time, wasn’t “in it to win it.” And it took a slip to get her to pay attention and to finally be In it to win it. I tend to agree. The same thing happened to me. I had bigger fish to fry the first time, so I wasn’t really in it to win it. I was trying to stay alive.

After my slip, I got another reprieve.

This time I was in it to win it, but even that thought took eleven years to percolate in my brain, before a man pointed this out to us at a Round Up a couple of years ago.

I am In it to Win it …

A drink might sound really good at times.

I don’t think I have another recovery in me.

The founders remind us just how much we stand to loose if we give up and throw in the towel.

Failure is NOT an option, neither is taking a drink.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Insidious

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: The Dark Blue

It has been an up/down kind of week last week. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, gave us a week of roller coaster temperatures, from single digit pluses, to ground frost, to windy (I need a jacket) cool, and today we are in double digit pluses. People never knows what to pack, what to wear, so that was a thing…

Life has become very busy, and almost frenetic. I’ve spent a good amount of time with my friends, which has been a real good thing. Getting to spend time with friends outside the normal travel routes is a nice addition.

A few weeks ago, I went to see my main doc for my spring checkup. While I was there, he floated the idea that he might be able to put me on brand new next gen HIV medication. I’ve been on my present regimen for almost ten years now.

But because of the transition from multiple sites, into the main Glenn site, everything is upside down. Medical files are currently being digitized and uploaded to computers, because the Glenn is attempting to be paper free.

This has posed numerous problems.

For the last two weeks doc has been trying to find my archive file, which has all of my genetic coding information. They rotate old paper into archives and store them in the basement, so you have to actually go looking for them.

UGH !!!

We’ve been talking on and off for the past week. Monday last week, I got the call about the switch. Doc did eventually find my file, and double checked the genetic profile. When I was diagnosed many years ago they did genotypes and phenotypes to type and cross reference my particular virus type. This will tell doctors what will and won’t work, on a grand scale.

Depending on the viral typification certain drugs are automatically disqualified for future use.

Genetic testing has been useful to optimize drug success. But it also is problematic, because even if new drugs come online, if you don’t match, you don’t get new drugs. Even if they have been reworked and strengthened.

I failed the mark this time around.

Which means, I stay on the present regimen for at least another year, until the next round is released. Bummer …

I’ve been keeping an eye on my baby birdies on the balcony, and I think that mom has abandoned her chicks, because she hasn’t been in the nest for days now, and I am not sure what to do, beyond calling the ASPCA and getting someone out here to take them and nurse them.

Yesterday, it was a double layer kind of day. It was that chilly. Today we are in the twenties, and I chose to walk the outer route to the church. Everyone, well, most of our folks were at the roundup this weekend, so I pulled all the jobs tonight.

We sat a good number and read another serious war story.

The take away:

  • Alcoholism is insidious
  • If nobody says STOP the alcoholic will keep going
  • Where ever you go, there you are
  • Functional alcoholism always devolves into insanity
  • Eventually, if we are lucky, we find the solution

We read all the way around, and the shares went all the way around. What started as many message discussion, turned into a meeting for one particular woman.

Before the meeting started, I was alerted, by a friend, that there was a newcomer in the crowd, which falls to the 12 step rep.

I was feeling a little iffy early on today. I just had a sinking feeling that something was just not right. I can’t tell you where that came from, but it is what it is. I knew my Sunday guy was out at a function, and that the women were at the roundup, so nobody came in early, to either read or help set up. My uneasy-ness was confirmed shortly after the meeting started.

A friend, who is fresh, was sitting in a lump, and I knew there was something wrong.

“The alcoholic will drink again …”

You never know when it will come, but at some point, the only thing that stands between you and your next drink, will be your higher power. This time, it went unused.

Been here and done that.

It only takes a millisecond. One moment of freak. One action, putting a drink to ones lips.

For a few minutes everybody listened.

Anguish is a very heavy emotion. What do you say, what do you do?

At least she made it to the meeting, in one piece.

I just knew something was off tonight.

We strolled home, and I phoned a friend to pick up the pieces.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday – One Thing After Another

francisLocation: Syria, Subject: Isis Militants Those Killed: Gay men …

“You are Gay, and before we kill you, we will embrace you like a human.”

Then they stoned two men to death, in front of a crowd of people.

You think these words spoken by Pope Francis are timely ???

I still think we need a crack team of commandos to go in there and slaughter Isis militants.

Kill them as unmercifully as they killed so many people who should still be alive.

End of Rant …

Last night I cracked Connor Franta’s book, “A Work in Progress.” This afternoon I finished the read while sitting in my doctors office. (More on that later)

I read a lot of books. I have an entire library of books in my bedroom. An avid reader will probably know, words are everything. What words are used, how they are used, and what those words mean, in the context of the story. Every book is an opportunity to learn a little more about its author.

As I was reading, certain words and phrases jumped out at me.

Because he writes with very familiar phraseology, enough to notice if you are paying attention.

However, there is no mention of any kind of association, and he may just know the words, without the context I was ascribing to them. It may just be his writing style.

But if you ask me, it sounds all too familiar !!!

Our young author, in his twenties now, tells us his story. He shares with his readers just how important the digital age is to his life and by extension, the rest of us … “unless you are forty” you probably don’t know much.

He writes:

“The social generation has taken over. If you don’t tweet on the daily, receive dozens of likes on instagram photos, and know what the heck Tumblr is, then you best get to Googling because you’ve been left behind.

Or you are like forty …”

I found this was the only point in the story where I laughed out loud.

I am forty seven years old. I grew up in the 80’s. The only phone we had was connected to the wall in the kitchen, or if you were lucky, you had your own extension in your bedroom, and I did.

Social media was the local roller rink, or the shopping mall, (Dadeland or The Falls), or church youth groups, specifically. If you wanted to see your friends, you went to their house. And if they were good friends, you most likely spent numerous nights sleeping at friends houses, which I also did frequently.

Social media came late for me. My first computer was a gift from a friend in 2001, and that little box played the crucial role of connecting me to Canada. If it weren’t for that fact and a letter from the government, I would not be here today.

Anyways, social media. I am connected. This blog is nine years old. I have a You Tube account. There are actually videos, made by me, there. I Tumble. That’s where my photos come from. I joined Twitter a year ago to stay in contact with my friends, and that has grown into a social media platform for the blog as well. I have been on Facebook for almost nine years.

That is where I keep up with all my friends in one location.

With one click here, I can publish to all of my social media platforms, all at once.

Every gay boy has a coming out story. No two are the same. Connor is no different. But he was a blessed young man. Coming to know ones self is tough. Especially, when we think we are different. The process of coming to terms with sexual orientation can be long and arduous.

Connor figured that out for himself. On his time. In his own way. He chose who to tell, and when, and then he told his parents. They did not reject him, they turned around and told him they loved him and that that would never change.

How many gay kids get that kind of unequivocal support from parents.

I didn’t.

I knew, before I knew what it was. I listened and decided that coming out would be detrimental to my existence. I moved away to be gay, and my alcoholism followed.

The rest is history.

Oh to write our memoirs at twenty-something… He has his whole life ahead of him. A lifetime of experiences he has YET to have. People he has YET to meet. Places he has YET to go.

SO MANY YETS !!!

tumblr_ljxktkG7IG1qdizh9o1_500 lovepainandhopeI had things to do today, places to go, people to see. On any regular day, I just go with the flow and my days usually goes with little thought to the what, why or the how of it.

I left with plenty of time to make my three train transit and get to my doctors appointment early, because I am always early, in the hopes that I maybe get in the door early, and get out of there early for a change. (Thank God I had Connor to keep me company).

I arrived twenty minutes early for a three o’clock appointment.

There are usually a few people waiting. And usually two doctors seeing patients.

Not the case today. The crowd that was there were all seeing one man. My Doctor.

I read my book, and I finished it as well. And still I waited. When the secretary called me in it was four thirty. I am pretty patient when it comes to the doctor. So shortly before I got called, I calmly walked up to the counter and inquired how long I would be waiting.

While I waited my sponsor called. I was supposed to meet him at his house to pay for the retreat in May, today was the deadline for payment. So he called me and said that he needed to attend to one of his guys, and could we amend our plans. I managed a yes.

Not knowing when I would be back on the Metro to get home.

At four thirty I went in and started a conversation. About halfway through, doc got a call from someone who must be working at the new Glenn Site. They spent a shitload of money building that monstrosity.

Millions of dollars spent were funneled into corrupt people’s bank accounts.

They built the hospital without consideration for specific needs, for certain departments. So unclaimed space is at a premium. So I listened to half a conversation about what my doctor needs in the new hospital and why, then I heard the other speaking to the effect that, I don’t think we can provide for your needs as you need them, so you will have to take whatever you get.

Doc says … The lives of my patients are on the line here, the words “crash cart” were tossed into the conversation. So that is a thing he says …

The guy responds … Well, I cannot provide what you need.

Doc says … Then I will meet you and we will go to the site and figure this out.

Conversation continues for a bit but does not end with a positive resolution.

We then resumed our discussion, diabetes is being a pain in my ass, my numbers are too high, something needs to change. Then I tell my doc about the pill pushing for a problem I did not have, (and he checked my blood pressure and it was GOLD).

Diabetes doc prescribes a pill for my blood pressure. Tells me to fill it and apply for a home meter that would be free and get sent to me once I visited their site. That was four months ago.

I did not fill the script and I did not take the pills as directed.

So today my doc tells me that the pills he wanted me to take were not actually FOR my blood pressure, but FOR a problem called, Microalbumin.

Something to do with blood and my kidneys.

What the actual fuck ???

Diabetes doc did not tell me any of this. Probably because he had interns in his office doing their homework on ME. He didn’t tell me what he should have told me, instead he gave some excuse.

I did not take the pills.

Meanwhile, the words diabetes doc didn’t say to me, appeared in my chart for my doc today to see and show me on his computer.

So my doc says to me, take the pills and don’t tell George that you talked to me.

I was not very happy.

On the flip side, my T-cell count stands at 1,358. That’s the highest it has been.

I left the office at five fifteen. I had forty five minutes to make my three train transit back into town. I had to stop at the pharmacy and drop scripts to be filled, go to the bank, get my cash I needed and then hit the grocery store all before six fifteen.

My sponsor was waiting outside my apartment when I got out of the grocery store.

In the end, it all got done. I hate having to race the clock.

I was home for forty five minutes, before I had to leave again for the Thursday meeting.

Every meeting is different. And I have learned a great deal from everyone who has spoken on Thursday night. Tonight was no different. What we are seeing and hearing is older folks, in their fifties, sixties and seventies, coming into the rooms much later in life. Older folks, with a few years under their belts. The later the entrance, the longer and painful the run up to insanity and their turning point.

Tonight I heard something different.

People don’t hit their bottoms, there are no bottoms, only an elevator, and it is up to us what floor we decide to get off on.

Our man tonight shared and his message was simple …

“You don’t have to suffer as long as I did in order to get here.”

In other news, I hit another fellowship along with some of my sponsees who also attend those meetings. I am all for trying to forget my slip and the drugs I did, and marijuana I smoked. I try to forget it because it was a horrible stage in my life.

It is a place I rarely go. I never talk about it. And I like it that way.

But that is the issue.

The longer I sit in that room, the more the nightmares and memories haunt me. I am ashamed of the person I became, I don’t know how I could have sunk so low as to go from a middle class white boy who was just an alcoholic, to a looser, white trash, trailer dwelling, drug abusing, pot smoking miscreant with no hope of a life or a way out of the pit of hell I dropped myself into, without having an escape plan ready, should I have needed it.

In the end, I had one friend who knew where I was, who supplied me with the one way ticket out of hell, and gave me a place to recuperate after my near death beating experience.

That man was my angel.

When I made that transit, I never touched drugs or marijuana again. I never went looking for them again, even when I got back to Miami. I still drank, because it was easy and I had the money to pay for it. But even that got old in the end.

And I got clean and sober 100%.

I needed to find someone to talk this out with, I need to dump this shit on someone who can help me navigate this stage of my recovery that I seem to be embroiled in. My sponsor did not use drugs, so I needed to find someone who did. And I found him.

My friend who celebrated twenty seven years sober tonight, is my guy.

I love him to death. He is one of the greatest men I know. Tomorrow we are getting together before the Friday night meeting to chat this out.

If you are going to get clean and sober, then you need to hit all the dark spots and bring that shit into the light of day, so you can deal with it and get over it.

Easier said than done.

But it is a start.

All in a days work they say.

More to come, stay tuned …


Merry Christmas 2014

tumblr_lw2bl4yyhC1qzcvqpo1_500 rawrdanieltumblr_m87fjdSpOA1ravgvuo1_500 jackandfinnCourtesy: RawrDaniel and JackHarries – Christmas Past

I stayed up late last night watching the Tubes for a while. Our local radio station that usually does overnight radio, is running Christmas music ad nauseum, ugh enough already !!! BAH !!!

Like I have said before, we really don’t get into that shop till you drop mentality. So Christmas is a little subdued. A couple of gifts, things we need, or maybe a surprise or two in the mix. Holidays are really about family and friends, and the table we will sit at later today.

This Christmas was all about Woks, headphones, and Max …

Hubby is Le Chef de Mission here at home. Keeping with tradition, he gets the latest and greatest cooking pans on the market. One of our staple meals is stir fry. And we needed a new Wok, so that was under the tree.

Then it was the Big Box – gifts for both of us in one swing. That was a big hit. New headphones.
Thank you Skull Candy !

Max got an upgrade with a 1 GB memory stick. That was much needed, because my library is pretty full as it is. I also got a shiny new mouse pad. My old mouse pad was really in bad shape.

That’s it for gifts. Nothing too grandiose.

The bird is in the oven, and we are on track for an early afternoon dinner with friends.

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A Christmas Reflection 2014

Today the Queen of England spoke about reconciliation, and the pause in hostilities during the Great War, where British and German troops, in dug out trenches, put down their guns, as the German soldiers sang “Silent Night,” in the night. The British followed suit.

What happened next is the story of legends. The next morning, Christmas Day 100 years ago today, the soldiers came out of their trenches meeting in no mans land for a game of footy, and to exchange presents and greetings.

Imagine, if the world today, took a collective breath, and hostilities were stopped for one day. Imagine, if the world could bring the many, into reconciliation, and END hostilities world wide !

IDEOLOGIES …

I have a friend who eschews holidays, those consumer driven celebrations that pop up every once in a while, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas … Love is an every day feeling. Family is an everyday gathering. Celebrating the lives of others, is a 365 days a year event.

We’ve learned, over the years, what is most important. When the tree goes up, it is a family event. It is a celebration of love, because we created a ritual for the tree. At Christmas our extended family goes well beyond to gift us all with something particularly special. And we return the gesture in kind.

For the past few years, our older members in the fellowship have been alone, they live alone and only go out for meetings, or shopping, or they go without. Us younger members have taken on the work of living in community with our men and women.

We break bread with them regularly. We celebrate holidays together, some share musical talent with them. All so that we do something good on a regular basis, with them, so that they are not alone. My guys are all connected to helping others when they can. Because they are able, and it is the right thing to do.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blessed birth come to pass in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Yes, the birth of Christ is important. It is the beginning of the story. But if you think about it, the end of the story of Jesus, is the culmination of God becoming man, and having a human experience, to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind.

Christ came to speak words of truth, to heal the sick, to chastise the greedy and wealthy, to give food to the hungry and pardon the sinner. He called twelve men to follow him, they would eventually follow and begin to create simple Christianity, that has blossomed into the Christianity of today.

The end of the story, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, is Man’s Saving Grace. Sacrifice is God’s greatest gift to mankind. He came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. Christ dying on the cross is the pinnacle of the meaning of Christianity. Coming to save man, by dying on a cross.

Sacrifice … Love … Salvation …

I remember when I was a young boy, going to my first retreat, and hearing the words, and listening to people speak about God, Jesus and Salvation. And at the end of it all, the altar call came, and one by one we stood and turned our lives over to this man we call Jesus.

It was a Mountaintop experience.

But like Moses, we too, had to come down from the mountain, and re-enter the world.

In those days, open carrying a bible in public school, was akin to having leprosy for teens.

It marked you as different. Odd. They called us Jesus Freaks, and we were. For a while at least.

I can’t say that I succeeded in my zeal for Jesus given the home I lived in and the schools I went to.

But that time is not lost on me considering my university education and the work I do every day.

Imagine what it was like to proclaim the life of Jesus as a follower to your fellow man. Imagine what it was like for those apostles and then the people. It was like that for us. I’ve learned a great deal of what it means to follow the man we call Jesus today.

That is a 365 day journey. Not just on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day, or Epiphany.

We should love one another every day. We should honor our mates every day. We should honor our children every day. The holidays have been Frankensteined into conglomerate days of greed, money and consumerism.

If it ain’t black Friday, it doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, bar none, people will be lining up, getting dirty, and fighting tooth and nail to get that 6 a.m. door buster prize. And I guarantee you that by 6 p.m. there will be numerous reports of holiday cheer going out the window as people beat each other up, or shoot one another for that Big Screen tv, or pair of high end sneakers.

Christmas is a day. I’ve encouraged my friends to go out into their communities and serve the less fortunate. But this too is not just a Christmas job, it is an every day job. I’ve said before that if we took all that money we spend on national and international defense and war spending and putting that money to better use, we could change the lives of millions in short order.

Sadly, the world operates on the conflict of the people, whether we like to admit that or not. It is Big Business. And those who have all the money and power rely on the conflict within the people to make their millions, billions and trillions of dollars.

The Christmas message is lost on them totally.

If you miss the real meaning of Christmas, let me remind you of a few point of order:

  • It’s not about the gifts under the tree, but the people around it
  • It’s not about how much money you spend, but the love that you share
  • It’s about family and who sits at your table for your holiday meal
  • It’s about that checker girl/guy at the grocery store, be kind
  • It’s about the less fortunate and random acts of kindness
  • It’s about the birth and beginning of the life of a man who would change the world
  • In the end it is all about the Sacrifice for the salvation of the world
  • It isn’t about what religion you profess, but the God that gives you life
  • It is the peace you share, and the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human existence

The Holidays are a “WE” event. It is not an “I” event. Dinner later on will be a We event.

And later tonight, WE will gather for a Christmas Night Meeting.

More to come …

Part 2 …

The weather held for the evening. But man is it windy. Where is all that wind coming from, and where did it originate? The wind was buckling the windows all evening while we napped after Christmas dinner.

Dinner was a nice meal, with friends and family.

We set out a bit early due to the fact that the buses are on Sunday Schedule for the holiday. Arriving at the church, a good number of people came out for the meeting. I half expected more to come, but we filled the room nonetheless.

Tonight we heard one of our women. One of the many women who feed my desire to be a better man, a sober man, who has done his work, and gives it away to others who want it as well.

In the beginning the story is the same. We were born, most, into dysfunctional families, feeding us mixed, and sometimes the wrong message about ourselves. And that leads into us becoming who we are in that period of time, and usually, but not in all cases, the messages we are fed, lead us into the world of drugs and alcohol to escape, to enhance, and even to blot out what we are hearing and in the end feeling.

Some, in the beginning, come, they look around, and they leave. We find this the case with our young people. How can I, (read: Being so young) have such problems that would need the intense work that we provide to them? For many young people, youth means that they have at least ten to fifteen years of good partying life ahead of them, and the mere thought of turning it all over and coming in for good is such a Tall Order …

Some come, and they stay, and they make a life out of it. But the stats are not good.

The WOMEN I speak so highly about so often, changed my life. Most of those women, by extension and by lineage, are sponsored, grand sponsored and great grand sponsored by women who live in New York City. The message came from one, to the next, and the next, and then finally to them personally. I was in the right place at the right time to hear this and see this in action.

And I wanted so badly to be part of it. And now I am. They say it is difficult to blunt a raging forest fire. Imagine for a moment, a bunch of crazy women on fire for the book and the solution. I had lunch with one of my ladies yesterday. They all warm my heart.

If you stick around, and you get the right message, that the book gives you, you too can join the fire for the book as well. They say that if you want to hide something from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book. Because most alcoholics won’t read the book, until it is imperative they do so. You can only sit in your chair for so long, until someone sits with you and offers to take you through the book like we do it.

The Solution … I’ve learned that I can be with myself. Alone, quiet, in the center of the storm where the winds are calm. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save anyone, that all I have to do is take care of me, and with that done, I can help take care of someone else.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

Listening to sponsees, reminds me why I am here. Because I hear what happened to them, and I know that some of the same things happened to me as well. Good Healing Fire spreads quickly. We hear our friends share in discussion meetings, but it is also good to hear them share on the open stage at a speaker meeting. I’ve heard her before, and tonight I got to see and witness personal progress.

We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

Every day we get a daily reprieve, contingent on our spiritual condition.

I understand what that means to me. Because I learned how to do it myself. You may not be one for prayer, or meditation. And in the beginning who can sit still for more than five minutes, at that? I had to practice. And that practice took months upon months, With serious time under my belt.

I had to step up my game if I wanted to reap the rewards of spiritual fitness.

Three, Seven and Eleven … daily, on your knees, humble before God. It is an act of humility to get down on ones knees to pray. Because they say, “When life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.”

Everybody has a journey to take, and no two journeys are the same.

THE WORK is the same for all of us, out of the same book, heading in the same direction.

That’s why I read the book with my guys once a week. That’s why I read the book with my sponsor.

Today, I, like many of my friends, live in the solution.

It was a good night.

My other observation for the night was of one particular homeless man, who has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober. And probably longer than that. The homeless in our city have a routine.

Whether they begin in the East and and work their way West, or from West to East, they either ride the rails, or ride the bus. From one side of the city to the other. Most of them go without food on a daily basis, but they have enough money to provide a bus pass to travel.

Where does that money come from, who provides it, when they can’t afford to eat?

Meetings run on similar lines across town, North, South, East and West. You can get to any meeting by rail and by bus. Our homeless population are well known in our circles, because they show up diligently on time for the meeting, for free coffee and cookies, and/or whatever free food is on the table. That is probably the mainstay of their meals on any given day, unless of course they visit a shelter or food station downtown.

Our city and by extension, our country hides a dark secret, out in the open, and we are powerless to affect change. The city can only do so much. Volunteers can only do so much, and the shelters and food stations can only do so much. Winters are brutal for our homeless. Because there are so many, there are spare resources for them on any given night, so they troll the city from one end to another every night.

Some collect bottles and cans. That is certain money in their pockets. Can and Bottle return is a booming business. The grocery store on the corner does really good business every day. I see the same folks come day in and day out, with tons of cans and bottles. One of them, I don’t know where he gets them all, but he probably collects a thousand cans a day add to that boxes of beer bottles as well.

There are entire populations of people who go without. Entire populations that live well, WELL below the poverty level. People at high levels of government have asked the Prime Minister what he will do for the those who need so much, and last week I heard him say on tv, that “well, they are not even on our radar, to be honest!”

How can you run a country that has so much, and gives so much away to foreign nations, that so many of your own people go without, and come off saying that they are not on your radar and that in turn, they are not important for the country, the provinces and the entire nation?

How can you stand yourself knowing that you ignore entire populations of people, because it isn’t expedient or that it is beneath you – or not politically sound to care or even act like you care for votes when the time comes?

That’s a political hot potato.

Human interest stories at the governmental level are ignored.

No government is perfect, anywhere in the world.

In a country that is so rich, a first world nation, we have entire populations of people who live in third world conditions, and that is terribly sad. I have ideas to float for all of these problems. They sound easy to me when I repeat them in my head, they sound good, they look good, but in the end, to make sweeping changes that many of us agree need to be made, that would take money. More money that most governments want to throw on people who do not matter to their bottom line.

VOTERS.

Most of those people do not vote. Most of those people have substandard homes if they have that at all, countless numbers of them are homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic. Many of them have mental and emotional problems that are never addressed because there is no money and not enough resources to help them all. Hell, even in first world populations, in the biggest cities, across the country, many people face these same problems, and they too go without.

We are heading into election territory in 2015.

Getting these issues onto a stage where they are heard and dealt with is wishful thinking.

Another Christmas, and some of our folks went without. again …

It costs money to take a homeless person off the street. Clean them up, first, then try and find them someplace safe and economical to live, but then you need to find the money to allow them to pay rent, utilities, buy food and live a substantive life. Treat their problems accordingly, but with what resources and from where? How do we do that ?

I asked a friend on the way home about the man I am speaking about now, and I said that he has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober, how do we get him off the street ? And his answer was simply, that he doesn’t want to get off the street ! Now is that by choice, by default, or lack of concern for his own welfare?

This is all terribly troubling when we live these lives of having everything that we need. And on the fringe, just below the radar, so many have little to nothing to call their own.

What did you do for the least of these today?

jersey crop

And with that, my Very Mario Christmas comes to an end.

Thank you for reading, for subbing and for being a part of my life.

Goodnight.


Sunday Sundries … Multiples of Two … Almost there … Nick Jonas

tumblr_n4ex5qDRnl1rq9jdfo1_500 stA theme will emerge, I promise …

It is a bit chilly at this hour. (-12c/-17c w.c.) And we are under a special weather advisory as well. We haven’t had our first BIG SNOW just yet, it looks like that may happen this week. Tuesday they say will be the day, and just what I need, a massive snow storm on a meeting night, with certain streets already blocked by construction, that only makes things worse, because we have to walk from the station down the hill to the church on Tuesday !!! F.M.L. !!!

We are only Two days out from my anniversary.

This week’s theme is multiples of Two.

I left home uber early so I could spend time with one of my guys, before the meeting. So we cranked it out and got down to business. It was very productive. We sat a fair group, lots of new faces, and a new lady in the chair, so that was a good thing.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Two.

The reading is very “meaty.” My book, being as old as it is, has multiple colors and underlining and high lighting in it. In that reading we talk about faith, and practice, and “coming to…”

It was very likely that someone in the room was going to mention the word God.

Following all the words I have spoken about said subject, many of our young folks are satisfied with the “mystery” that is God, the “not having to KNOW it fully” and the fact that as it played out, the same truth came from many mouths … “I came to the room, and it was in the room, with all of you people in it, that I came to know and understand.”

Nobody really knows Who or What God is. Even the brightest religious and theological minds can really give us one specific answer to that question.

There are several paradoxes in several books, when talking about God and Higher Power.

In the Twelve and Twelve and Step Two it reads: A.A. doesn’t demand you believe in anything.

In A.B.S.I. one passage reads: You can believe in anything you want, as long as it works, BUT it always comes back round to God.

The Big Book reads: The term “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms…

… Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.

For many of us, myself included, God, or Faith, or Belief, has evolved over the years. We’ve discussed in great detail, the word God, how to read it, what to do with it, and how to work around it, because I’ve also said, when it comes to God, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

The one piece of advice I share willingly is this … In order to see things as I see them or how others see things, takes a long time. This is a long term prospect. The suggestion, and it is merely a suggestion, is that you stay in your day and live in your 24 hours, and don’t worry about the future, or more to the point, don’t forecast too far into the future.

Meaning: You gotta stick around until the miracle happens.

I have said that I had to learn lessons, I learned once before, over again. They came in another order, because the circumstances I came back in were different that the first time around.

I did whatever they told me to do. And tonight I was sitting in the room I got sober in, (read: the room I have spent the most number of hours in over the last 13 years) with a new sponsee, and I shared with him this piece of advice.

When we come to a room, it is all about ME. Over time, All about ME, changes to All about US.

We begin to exercise the paradoxes. And over time, we come, we come to, and then we come to believe. For some this is a tall order, which is why the Twelve and Twelve says what it says.

As soon as I stopped arguing and judging, and dropped the intellectualism and the emotionalism, then I had a chance.

For many of us, every day is a choice. We do good, we pray, we help others, we help ourselves, and no two days running are the same. We are apt to make mistakes and do things wrong. But there is the lesson for us … it isn’t supposed to always be easy… If God gave us everything we wanted on a silver platter, then where would the challenge be?

If we didn’t have to work for our lives, then what’s the purpose of living?

Prayer is a Up Down Process …

Conscious Contact with God as we understand Him is an Up Down Process…

Expanding that thought as I have done recently, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact ( with:God/read:others) praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out…

Working life out turns from all about Me to All about Us.

Coming to a meeting, leads to coming to believe on our part.

And I don’t know what God’s voices sounds like, and If I am going to hear it, it is going to come from someone familiar, someone I know. But if I am not paying attention clearly and wrapped up in the committee in my head, I may miss God speaking to me.

You never know … I tell my guys that when they pray, pray humbly and honestly. That takes time and effort and practice. I then add that it is difficult to remain connected to God all day long, with the business of life going on around us, and I was sure that someone somewhere would bring an answer to certain prayers, if we were paying attention. Hence … Going to a meeting, is also a chance opportunity to hear from God.

Because like I said, you never know where the next good word is going to come from.

When I talk about God, and hearing God and Seeing God move, it is always associated with the hall at St. Leon’s Church. He likes that room, because over the last thirteen years, He has been very good to our people. I may have a university, (read:book) education and also have a family faith background, I knew God existed. But having spent so many years going to meetings, I was given eyes to see Him.

When I was in Seminary, many years ago, I had plenty of time to pray and to find God. And I did that. Sad that human beings, who thought they knew better, thought that my conscious contact with the God of my understanding was not good enough for them !

I kind of wonder what God thought of that judgment?

Water under the bridge they say …

I don’t argue with people over God. Once you come in, STAY. And I promise you, very truly, if you stay and you take suggestions, and you do the work, you WILL come to believe, just like every other human being in the room. Those four words give you plenty of latitude…

As We Understood Him

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Unless you have been living under a rock, there has been plenty of words written about Mr. Nick Jonas. One of the trio of the Jonas Brother’s Fame. Nick has produced his first self titled album, Nick Jonas. I wasn’t a Jonas Brother follower. Not being a teenage girl …

But Nick has been all over Tumblr as of late. He has quite the boy following.

The album, I think, is a lot rhythm and Bluesy. It has a specific rhyme and reason. If I download an album, I first listen to it on the computer, then if I like it, it goes to my phone, which gets an additional listen through, at that point, it either stays or goes.

Nick is a keeper.

It is well worth the price. He’s got a unique sound.

That is all for tonight. Next Stop … 13 years … Cake and Frivolity !!!

The next multiple of two comes on Tuesday, with Step 12 …

Having Had A spiritual awakening …

Stay tuned, more to come, definitely…